Tag Archives: Ookla Speed Test

Live Broadcast from Walmart Parking Lot Studios!

We were scheduled to present a Google Photos seminar to the Quad Cities Computer Society in Moline, Illinois on Monday night.

QCS-googlePhotos

imageWe were in our RV in New Jersey, and Monday was a travel day for us. We left the Jersey shore and headed south to go home to Florida. We planned to spend the night at an Elk’s Lodge in New Castle, Delaware after a stop near Atlantic City to visit with Jim’s Aunt Julie.

If you don’t know, many Elks lodges offer parking for their RVing members. We became Elks members during an Escapees RV Rally in Gillette, WY and, using our Allstays App to find them, we have stayed at many of them all over the country! We arrived at the Elks Lodge about 4:30 – perfect! We needed to go live on the web about 7:30 to present our seminar using Youtube Live Streaming services. We’ve stayed at this Elks Lodge before and really liked it. They have a nice big parking lot and one electric hookup for an RV. We were the only RV there.

elks

As soon as we pulled in to their parking lot we started checking our phones for Verizon signal. We have an unlimited data contract with Verizon and we find they usually have the best speeds of any service wherever we are. We turn our phones into hotspots, I connect my computer to my “Mrs. Geek” phone hotspot and Jim connects his computer to his “Mr. Geek” phone hotspot. To do a Youtube Live Streaming event you need a fast Internet connection and plenty of bandwidth. We can easily burn thru a couple of Gigabytes during an hour show.

As I mentioned, we’ve stayed at this Elks Lodge before- on our way north in July – and I remembered there being good Verizon Internet signal here. Unfortunately, I have discovered that trusting my memory is a bad idea! I was only seeing 1 bar of 4G on my phone, Jim was down to 3G on his! A speedtest by Ookla showed less than 1Mbps – not nearly enough! This won’t work. We turned around and headed out in search of better Verizon signal.

We found a Walmart not too far away (also using our Allstays app!) and saw 5 bars of 4G and 16Mbps of upload speed! That will do (upload is more important than download for broadcasting.)  Now to park and crank up the generator for electricity. Then to get the “studio” set up. We usually don’t put out the motorhome slides when we’re in a Walmart parking lot. It’s not good ‘etiquette’ to set up camp for an overnight parking lot stay. But there just isn’t enough room for everything with the slides in, so we compromised, parked in such a way that the one necessary slide was on the curb side and we put it out.

All looked good, and we connected with our audience with plenty of time to spare. Just as Jim was about to click the button to “Go Live” his phone’s hotspot crashed. No clue why. He quickly connected to the MrsGeek hotspot and we continued on! We demonstrated Google Photos for about 40 minutes then took questions from the audience. Somehow Chris’ microphone went missing early on, where DID our stage manager go?

Although we had a live audience in Moline, Illinois, anyone in the world could have tuned in because of the way Youtube works. For a worldwide broadcast from our RV in a Walmart parking lot – I think we did pretty good! Since Youtube automatically records, you can watch the presentation now if you’d like by clicking on the image below.

rv-studio

Here’s what Judi, the president of Quad Cities Computer Society wrote to us afterwards,

Chris, thanks to you and Jim.  As always you did a great job and we really, really appreciate your time and effort.

I am sorry I did not interrupt you once I suspected there was a microphone problem.  I thought at first it was a volume problem and turned up the speakers.  But we did hear through Jim’s Mic and I think being able to listen to the recorded version will help catch anything that I missed.

Your presentation helped me a lot and the book is a great resource. I know now MY confusion was about the computer not syncing like the mobile devices and the book lets me read and re-read about the correct methods for deleting photos from each source.

You guys are the best–your dedication to teaching is remarkable and NEEDED by so many of us “older” adults.  I hope you continue for many more years.

Thanks Judi! Let’s do it again sometime!

Here’s a photo of our Walmart Parking Lot Broadcast Studio.

walmart

p.s. I’m writing this blog post from another Walmart parking lot! In North Carolina now.

Cellular Internet Connections: It’s Not Just the Signal, it’s the Speed

Where most people look for pretty trees at the campground, we look for pretty cell towers!

by Chris Guld www.GeeksOnTour.com

We travel all over the country in our Motorhome and we depend on our website, GeeksOnTour.com, for our living. Internet connections are very important to us and we rely on Verizon thru our Android phones to provide that connection. We also live-stream a smartphone educational show every week. It’s called What Does This Button Do? and we do it from our motorhome. In case you are not aware, “Streaming” and “Internet Hog” are synonymous!

I have to be reminded that some people use their phones to make phone calls! Just to be clear, we’re only talking about Internet … Data … connections in this article. Voice is a different topic which may or may not be affected by the same factors.

Most people judge their cellular Internet connection by simply looking at the signal bars on their phone. 1-2 bars = bad; 4-5 bars = good. But that’s not always true.

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Using Ookla Speed Test App

Signal strength is only one measurement, and in my opinion it is not the most important one. We have been in places where we were seeing only 1-2 bars, yet our Internet performance – the speed – was very good. We have also seen 4-5 bars and had low speed. We use the Ookla Speed Test app to check our speeds. We’ve seen download speeds ranging from .2 Mbps to 74. But, those numbers don’t always correlate with the signal strength.

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In the image above you can see that the signal strength is not that great, yet the speed is VERY good! And, we’ve seen the results go the opposite way as well; where the signal strength has been registering 5 bars, yet the speed is <1Mbps.

When we pull into an RV park now, we drive around with our cell phones out and Ookla Speed test running. At each possible site, we’ll do a speed test. We were recently at the Thousand Trails park in Hershey, PA and we planned to be there for #48 of our What Does This Button Do?, so we really needed good Internet. When we pulled into the park, our signal strength was registering only 2 bars … of 3G. Not good. There were some areas where we saw no signal at all. Then we found one area with 2 bars of 4G, so we started an Ookla speed test and saw less than 1Mbps of speed. We thought we would need to leave and find another park, but we kept looking at other sites and doing speed tests. We found one, where Ookla registered 2-3 Mbps both up and down, so we parked. Surprisingly, we were able to do our show just fine.

Not all Cell Towers are Equal

Realize that the signal strength bars are simply measuring how strong the signal connection is between your device and the nearest cell tower for your service provider. So, there may be times when you are very close and have good signal strength, but it’s an old tower with outdated equipment. A better connection doesn’t help if what you’re connecting to isn’t any good. And vice versa – you may have a weak connection but if the cell tower you are connecting to has the latest and greatest technology, you may still get good results. Realize that “Old” and “Outdated” may be measured in months!

imageCellular technology is very fast-moving. If you want to learn more about this, we recommend the excellent book: RV Mobile Internet Handbook by Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia. You can find the book and much more on their website RVMobileInternet.com.

The Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story

You can’t just look at the numbers and know how good your Internet connection is. I thought we would be unable to do our streaming show from the Hershey campground based on the numbers, but it went just fine. There are so many factors in this complex technology.  It’s your experience that counts. Browse to a website; did it load fast or are you still waiting? Try to play a YouTube video; does it start right away and continue straight thru or does it stop ever few seconds to buffer?  Try uploading a video; does it complete or does it die halfway through? If you’re not getting the results you want, there are signal boosters that will help, but only IF the problem is signal strength. If the problem is cell tower equipment quality, you may need to move!

#51 Chargers, Cables, Connections. What Does This Button Do?

 

There are show notes below which document what was covered in the show and include timeline links, so you can watch just the part of the video that you want. If you are not a Geeks on Tour member, you can watch Episode 51 video on YouTube, but you won’t get the show notes.Become a member here. This episode covers:

  1. Quick Tips: Settings Shortcuts.
  2. Beginner’s Lesson: Chargers, Cables, Connections
  3. App of the Week: Ookla Speed Test

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